Shares slide amid escalating U.S.-China trade tensions

Beijing

Beijing

China only imported $130 billion worth of goods from the United States previous year - which is down nearly a third of the value of United States' imports from China.

The Commerce Ministry on Wednesday gave no details, but Beijing responded to last week's USA tariff hike on $US34 billion ($A46 billion) of imports from China by increasing its own duties on the same amount of American goods.

The foreign ministry described Washington's threats as "typical bullying" and said China needed to counter-attack to protect its interests.

A four-day winning streak for the S&P 500 ended as the benchmark index lost 0.7 percent, to 2,774.02.

Some U.S. business groups and lawmakers from Trump's own Republican Party were critical of the escalating tariffs.

Also Monday, German automaker BMW AG said it would raise prices on US -built SUVs exported China due to higher tariffs.

President Donald Trump vowed to hit back after China retaliated for the first round of 25 per cent tariffs on Dollars 34 billion worth of imports that Washington imposed last week.

The US trade deficit in goods with China ballooned to a record $375.2 billion past year, stoking his anger.

"Consumers are feeling good, but if they see prices start going up, there could be a backlash", said Rod Sides, U.S. leader of retail at Deloitte.

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That intensification of the trade conflict, which commentators are increasingly calling a full-scale trade war, has investors spooked about the future of the global world order and the global economy, pushing stock markets around the world deep into the red. Before now, the administration had deliberately avoided imposing tariffs on consumer goods in order to spare US shoppers from direct economic pain.

In currencies, both the yen and the dollar act as safe-haven investments.

More broadly, American officials worry Chinese government plans such as "Made in China 2025", which calls for creating competitors in robots, biotech, artificial intelligence and other fields, might erode US technology leadership and prosperity.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said the announcement "appears reckless and is not a targeted approach".

The statement said importers would be encouraged to shift to buying soybeans and other farm goods from countries that aren't affected by the tariffs. "It will also result in retaliatory tariffs, further hurting American workers", a Chamber spokeswoman said, according to Reuters.

China's exports have mushroomed since it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, making it the world's second-largest economy and prompting widening criticism in recent years from trading partners that it has unfairly used global trade rules to its advantage.

Holding on to the outdated zero-sum mentality and willfully launching the trade war not only undermines interests of the two parties directly involved, but also others in the global industrial chain, and there will be no victor, Hua said. Chinese tactics, the administration says, include outright cybertheft and forcing US companies to hand over technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market.

"The outburst of large-scale mutual levying of tariffs between China and the United States will inevitably destroy Sino-US trade", assistant minister of commerce Li Chenggang told a forum in Beijing.

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